Across his near 12-year stint with TNA and IMPACT Wrestling, AJ Styles became one of the most highly rated and most sought after wrestlers in the world. But who was the first person to recognise his Hall of Fame worthy talents?
After starring for NWA Wildside, Styles had a brief dalliance with WCW before receiving a try-out with WWE. While the try-out came to nothing, Styles went on to sign with two fledgling promotions in 2002 in the form of Ring Of Honor and TNA, which would later become IMPACT.
Over the following decade, Styles became synonymous with TNA becoming the first ever X-Division Champion and first Grand Slam Champion.
Upon signing with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Styles worked alongside the company’s founder and WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett.
Speaking during a Q&A with Lucha Libre Online, Jarrett reflecting on signing Styles, listing the people who helped “discover” the would-be World Champion.
“I think it depends on the era and the definition of ‘true discovery,’ because Bill Behrens was AJ’s first promoter — who to this day is his agent, business advisor, manager, whatever the title may give you. But Bill — to Wildside Wrestling (NWA Wildside) and you know, AJ was around WCW for just a couple of shows, and then North Georgia independents, and then my father heard about him and he saw him and then obviously I saw him. Jeremy Borash had seen him. There were different folks in the early days of TNA but you know, when AJ — those three months before TNA started, getting the ability to see AJ and his first night, being crowned the X-Division Champion, he truly was an alternative, but also a face of the brand from day one.”
After leaving IMPACT at the tail end of 2013, AJ Styles returned to ROH while also heading to New Japan. Styles enjoyed great success during this period as a member of The Bullet Club before signing with WWE in 2016.
During his time with WWE, Styles has won the WWE Championship twice, alongside multiple other championship wins. Most recently capturing the Raw Tag Team Titles alongside the giant Omos. However, the pair lost the belts at SummerSlam to Randy Orton and Riddle.
Styles and Omos will look to regain the Tag Team Titles at Crown Jewel on October 21st.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.